Crash Course on Each Champions League Round-of-16 Tie

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterDecember 11, 2017

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 09:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid in action during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 9, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by fotopress/Getty Images)
fotopress/Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League round-of-16 draw is in the books. Each of the sides that battled through an unforgiving group stage knows the team they will face come February, when the tournament begins its knockout phase.

Monday's process threw up some enticing ties, with Real Madrid drawing Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea drawing Barcelona the standouts. Those are two games you wouldn't mind seeing in the final, let alone the first knockout round.

Let's take a look at all eight ties and pick out the key men, potential breakout stars and more.


            

Juventus vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Upset Alert?

Absolutely. Juventus are seasoned Champions League campaigners and reached last year's final so will always expect to make a deep run in the competition, but they will have to be extremely wary of Tottenham Hotspur.

Spurs have already beaten Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the competition this year, and while their league form has been lacking at times, they have most certainly been up for these ties.

          

Key Men

Two legs of Juventus vs. Tottenham could quite easily produce in excess of seven goals, so the focus will be on the attacking stars on show.

Paulo Dybala's movement into clever positions is going to be an issue if Spurs still don't have Victor Wanyama back, while Juve will rightly fear Harry Kane, a man who is capable of scoring 50 goals in a calendar year.

            

Predicted Breakout Star

It's nigh on impossible to find a breakout star among two squads the world knows, but Rodrigo Bentancur has featured more than most expected for the Bianconeri since arriving in the summer and could be a prominent factor by February.

       

Prediction

Spurs win a high-scoring aggregate affair. 

            

FC Basel vs. Manchester City

Upset Alert?

No. Basel may have beaten Manchester United at home in the group stage and, to their credit, tallied an impressive 12 points, but Manchester City are arguably the strongest side in Europe and won't have much trouble here.

        

Key Men

Basel's defensive task here is obvious, but they will also need to offer a threat on the counter-attack and from set pieces. Michael Lang, the team's right wing-back, has been in ridiculous goalscoring form of late and will be up against Leroy Sane, who is a major part of City boss Pep Guardiola's attacking plan.

       

Predicted Breakout Star

Manuel Akanji could have a big say in this game. The Basel centre-back performed well in the group stage and has started collecting Switzerland caps. A showpiece performance at this stage could propel him to a big move.

             

Prediction

Basel will fight, but City's incredible strength overwhelms them.

                 

FC Porto vs. Liverpool

Upset Alert?

Most certainly. As Portuguese writer Tiago Estevao noted via Twitter, FC Porto excel with their backs to the wall and are extremely handy from set piecestwo traits that will cause Liverpool consternation.

          

Key Men

We've seen how Liverpool's defence collapses under pressure from a strong, direct, quick striker, and Vincent Aboubakar is all of those. He's also a serious set-piece threat.

On the flip side, Philippe Coutinho's genius in tight spaces and long-range shooting threat may well have to be the difference against a deep-set opponent.

          

Predicted Breakout Star

After impressing on loan at OGC Nice last season, Ricardo Pereira has excelled with Porto this term. Now a complete full-back, a strong performance against Liverpool could earn him a Kyle Walker-esque move in 2018.

       

Prediction

Liverpool edge it by a goal. This is a closer tie than many will presume.

                   

Sevilla vs. Manchester United

Upset Alert?

Probably not. Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is the master of knockout football, and it will take an excellent side to knock his side out out over two legs. Sevilla don't have enough in the tank.

              

Key Men

Nights like this are when Paul Pogba should come out to play in midfield. In response, Sevilla's Ever Banega needs to put on a clinic of his own and inspire belief among his comrades.

             

Predicted Breakout Star

Sevilla's squad is well-known thanks to its European exploits in recent seasons, so this one's tough. Perhaps Clement Lenglet can continue to enhance his reputation on this stage.

          

Prediction

United progress comfortably.

                

Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain

Upset Alert?

Which team would be upsetting the other? Real Madrid are the European champions, but Paris Saint-Germain are a force this season and might well look better heading into this one.

           

Key Men

It's all about those Ballon d'Or podium presences here. Cristiano Ronaldo has a reputation for delivering when it matters the most and against the best teams. The pressure will be on Neymar to emulate him.

           

Predicted Breakout Star

The world knows these two teams and squads inside out. Even Borja Mayoral is an open secret. It would take a slew of injuries for anyone like Marcos Llorente, Jesus Vallejo or Giovani Lo Celsoplayers who are in the breakout bracketto feature.

            

Prediction

An incredibly tough call, but on paper, you have got to side with the holders' pedigree, right?

                  

Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma

Upset Alert?

Without question. The way Shakhtar Donetsk acquitted themselves in a horrid group was incredible; any top-seeded team drawing them in the round of 16 was always going to be on upset alert as a result.

              

Key Men

AS Roma were rock-solid at home in the group stage, not conceding a single goal at the Stadio Olimpico, and that will have to change if Shakhtar wish to progress. Marlos is capable of moments of magic and may have to produce the goods again here.

For Roma, it's about continuing that home form and nabbing an away goal. Edin Dzeko seems the obvious choice here, but Diego Perotti's knack of scoring important goals makes him crucial too.

            

Predicted Breakout Star

How Fred is still at Shakhtar is a mystery. If he performs as we know he can against Roma, maybe that soon changes.

          

Prediction

Roma win on away goals. This one is tight.

              

Chelsea vs. Barcelona

Upset Alert?

Yes. Chelsea have the attacking potency to slay any team, the Eden Hazard-Alvaro Morata combination will be difficult to stop and the last time these two sides met, six seasons ago, 10-man Chelsea fought back from 2-0 down at the Camp Nou in the semi-final second leg to progress.

           

Key Men

You wouldn't expect either side to keep a clean sheet in either leg, and that's because of the attacking quality on display. It may be stating the obvious, but Hazard and Lionel Messi are the deciding factors here.

             

Predicted Breakout Star

Nelson Semedo is already a star, but it's quite possible Premier League or Chelsea fans aren't aware of just how good he is.

           

Prediction

With Luis Suarez creeping back into form, Barcelona are the side to back here.

            

Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas

Upset Alert?

Yes. Bayern Munich are by far the stronger side on paper, but Besiktas's topping of Group G can't be ignored, and Vodafone Arena could be a difference-maker if they achieve a respectable result in Munich.

            

Key Men

Besiktas will have to defend for long periods in this game and somehow nullify elite striker Robert Lewandowski. If Pepe can keep him quietand he's had practice at itthe Black Eagles can fly.

       

Predicted Breakout Star

A long-range thunderbolt could result in international attention for Anderson Talisca, who lives for these nights.

        

Prediction

Bayern over two legs will be just too strong for Besiktas.

             

Facebook.com/SamTigheBR

All statistics via WhoScored.com

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